A group of Southern Arizona copper workers from the United Steelworkers (USW) protested in front of Grijalva’s campaign headquarters, yesterday. They were protesting Grijalva’s interference with job development.
Grijalva and his operatives continue to block progress on permits for development of the new Rosemont Copper Mine. “Multiple permits are already approved at the open-pit location southeast of Tucson, but we have become frustrated with Congressman Grijalva’s lack of response to the issue of good future jobs for our families in Pima County,” declared Manuel Armenta, USW Sub-district Director. He said that the steelworkers had supported Grijalva, in the past.
“This is the copper state, our football helmets are going to be copper-colored, the dome on the Capitol is copper, we are proud of our copper heritage. We are copper miners, our fathers were copper miners, their fathers were copper miners,” said one of the organizers by the name of Angel. He stated, “Your cars use copper, solar energy panels use copper, our homes use copper, it is almost everything we use every day, and we have it, and mining it produces high paying jobs.”
Angel continued, “We make good money, money to take care of our families and give them what they need. Not call center jobs that pay $9 an hour. Rosemont will create jobs that people can live on. We need these jobs for our families.”
The copper workers and their supporters came from across the state to express their support for the new Rosemont Mine, and against Grijalva’s job killing actions. It wasn’t easy either. Most of the protestors are members of the Democratic Party, and have supported Grijalva in the past. They are looking for a new representative in congress.
One long time democrat pointed to the police presence off in the distance monitoring the protestors and said, “Amanda Aguirre, Manny Arreguin, and Gabby Saucedo Mercer want Rosemont, why should we want Grijalva? He has nothing to be afraid of but our votes.”
“All of Grijalva’s opponents support the mine, he is the only one standing in the way,” said one protestor referring to Grijalva’s congressional race. “Not only did he call for a boycott of us, he is killing future jobs.”
One protestor, who identified herself as Frankie, was practical, not political, “I work in the mines. Rosemont will be a state-of-the-art mine. She continued, “It will create good high paying jobs and that is what this state needs. It is environmentally friendly and there is no good excuse to stop it.”
Rudy Garcia, a well respected Tucson area community leader, offered his personal history to explain support for the mine and his opposition to Grijalva. “I am from Arizona. I was born in Mexico, grew up in Douglas, and after I got out of the military there weren’t any jobs, I went to California, the jobs that were there were in Elfrida and you could pick onions.” The former steelworker went on, “I cannot understand why, Grijalva does not want people to have good jobs. I will not support Grijalva.”
“Another thing, you see the cap I am wearing don’t you?” Garcia said pointing to his baseball cap emblazoned with the word Army. “I am proud of my service to this country. This is Memorial Day weekend. I volunteered for service, and this man, he is a draft dodger. He left the United States and went to Sonora. You cannot find any record of him in Selective Service records. There is no sign of him ever being registered with the Selective Service. I can’t stand that. I will not support a draft dodger. I cannot support him.”
Garcia statements were warmly received by many listening to the proud veteran and former steel worker. Garcia has fought against injustice all of his life. The LA Times reported that he succeeded in conducting the only recall of a complete city council while living in California.
Garcia was not the only community leader in attendance. Joe Flores, a popular community leader came out in support of good jobs for Arizona. “Who is Raul Grijalva suppose to represent, if not the people of this state? When was the last time you felt represented by this Congressman? When he boycotted Arizona? This congressman does not quit. He has lost reality with the working man. People need Jobs. Jobs create a family life and overflows to community businesses.
His pay check is secured, has he tried to secure yours. NO. Here you have a company that is willing and with the recourses that we have to make a difference in the working men and women’s lives. This company has complied with all aspects to satisfy the environmentalist. The mining methods that they have put in place are high tech, not the same as the old days.”
Flores, who created many jobs in Tucson over the years, was the victim of Grijalva’s machine when he ran against Regina Romero for Tucson City Council.
Romero is a sitting Tucson City Council member, who is married to Grijalva’s top aide Ruben Romero. The Pima County Democratic Party broke all traditions and potentially election financing laws in spending money on Romero during the primary.